Friday, March 29, 2013

A Note to a Stranger

Dear Mom at the Park Today:

I saw your son first. I saw him on the playground, bigger than most of the other kids, stomping up and down and flapping his hands. I saw him, and I thought I knew, but of course without knowing him I couldn't really know.

I tried to look and see who he belonged to, but there were so many kids there, due to the egg hunt. I kept having to look away to make sure I knew where my own son was. When I spotted your son again, he was off running -- not away, but separate, apart from the other kids, doing his thing, looking for peace and space in the midst of the semi-chaos.

Again I looked for you, mom. I wondered if you were part of the egg hunt, perhaps a friend of a friend, and I wondered as I always do how I could approach you if I found you. Would there be a way to talk? Would you acknowledge and be relieved to know I knew, or deeply offended if I walked up and made note of what was obviously your son's special needs and (perhaps) autism? These are the questions that so rattle me sometimes -- when or if to reach out, and if so, how?

A few minutes later, I finally spotted you over at the bridge that spans a little stream near the park's entrance. Oh Mom I Don't Know, I wish you could know that I saw you. I saw that your son had taken off his shirt and was leaping around (maybe wishing he could swim in the water?). I saw that you had another child, undoubtedly a typical one, and the way you were trying to stretch your attention between the two of them and their very different needs.

The egg hunt was slated to start in a few minutes. I had to gently urge my little guy to get off from trying to climb on the roof of the little tot playground like some of the bigger kids. I was distracted for a few more minutes, but when I looked back again, that last time...

That last time broke my heart.

I saw you over near your car, in the parking lot. And for the first time I noticed that you had Easter baskets. I don't know you and haven't ever seen you at the mom's group that was holding the egg hunt, but you were there to collect eggs...only you weren't, because you were leaving. I knew why you were leaving. In those mere seconds I flashed back to rushed moments in public places when I was a kid, trying to get away before one of Andy's meltdowns started, trying to do what we could to not make a scene. I thought of parties that ended early, get-togethers cut short.

And in those split seconds before the kids rushed to the field and made a mad dash for candy, I wanted to cry: not for my past, but because I so badly wanted to rush out there and tell you It's okay...you're not alone...someone understands...is there anything I can do? How I wanted so wanted to break any codes of etiquette and run over there and just give you a hug, look your son in the eye without shying away and pretending not to see. How I wanted to, but my kids called to me, and someone stopped to say hi, and in another moment I looked over --

And you, all of you, were gone.

3 comments:

Julie Sparks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Sparks said...

Awesome!!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

hugs :-(
my heart breaks for mums